Technicians in a Lockheed Martin clean room near Denver prepare NASA's InSight Mars lander for propulsion proof and leak testing on Oct. 31, 2014. Following the test, the lander was moved to another clean room for the start of the mission's assembly, test and launch operations (ATLO) phase. The assembly portion of ATLO will last about six months.
The InSight mission (for Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport) is scheduled to launch in March 2016 and land on Mars six months later. It will investigate processes that formed and shaped Mars and will help scientists better understand the evolution of our inner solar system's rocky planets, including Earth.
InSight is part of NASA's Discovery Program of competitively selected solar system exploration missions with highly focused scientific goals. NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, manages the Discovery Program for the agency's Science Mission Directorate in Washington. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, manages InSight for the NASA Science Mission Directorate. Lockheed Martin Space Systems, Denver, is building the spacecraft.
Photojournal Note: After thorough examination, NASA managers have decided to suspend the planned March 2016 launch of the Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations Geodesy and Heat Transport (InSight) mission. The decision follows unsuccessful attempts to repair a leak in a section of the prime instrument in the science payload.